Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Steve Jobs, Brave, and the New Feminist Agenda

BRAVE, PIXAR'S LATEST ANIMATED FILM, has an overt feminist agenda. Concept films created with the intention of indoctrinating young children with progressive ideas are nothing new, but over the years, the ideas that kids are indoctrinated have changed dramatically. This is particularly apparent when you compare "Brave" to Atalanta, a short film from the 1974 classic Free to be You and Me.

The hero of "Brave" is a spoiled rebellious princess named Mereda (Mered is Hebrew for rebellion). According to tradition, Mereda is expected to offer her hand in marriage to the winner of a tournament of strength - a gesture of good will that traditionally has brought peace between her clan and the neighboring clans. To get out of this arrangement Mereda purchases a poison cake from a witch in the forest and feeds it to her mother. To Mereda's delight, her mother gets violently ill from the poison.

The poison's final effects leave her mother transformed into a bear. Mereda and her mother/bear are then sent on a journey to find the antidote before the spell becomes permanent. As a bear Mereda's mother is unable to talk ("giggle giggle I don't speak bear mom!") granting Mereda her wish that her mother has to listen to her. At the end, Mereda's bear/mother learns her lesson and gestures to Mereda in sign language that she should break tradition and do whatever she feels is right.

In a tearful final scene, right before the magic spell becomes permanent ***SPOILER ALERT*** Mereda's mother turns back into a person.


Atalanta is a clever young princess whose father, the king, wants her to get married. Atalanta, however, does not want to get married. To settle their dispute the king arranges a foot race and the fastest runner wins Atalanta's hand in marriage. Atalanta agrees, so long as she is allowed to compete, and if she wins she can choose not to marry. The king agrees to her terms.

In preparation of the race, Atalanta secretly practices every night until she feels that she can run the track faster than anyone has ever done before. Unbeknown to Atalanta, every morning a determined young boy named John does the same thing.


Their hard work pays off and on the day of the race Atalanta and John tie for first place. The king is pleased, but both John and Atlanta say that they are not sure if they are ready for marriage. They go on a pleasant date together and part as friends. They go off separately to see the world leaving the ending open to the possibility that one day they may get together and marry.

Brave is a shameless rip off of Atalanta.

Both Brave and Atalanta seem to have anti marriage agendas but there are striking differences that demonstrate how warped the feminist agenda has become since the 1970s when Atalanta was made.
  • In Atalanta, while the king is overweight, he comes across as a reasonable person, albeit with some outmoded views. In Brave, every male character without exception is an ugly, toothless, clumsy, and grotesque caricature. All the men are foolish, arrogant, drunken, prone to violence, and easily manipulated by women.
  • Atalanta has a reasoned and respectable disagreement with her father that is settled by a fair compromise. Mereda is a spoiled brat who is disrespectful of her parents. She is determined to get her way through temper tantrums, screaming arguments, running away, and ultimately hurting her mother. 
  • Although Atalanta's father is humbled at the end, Atalanta is also humbled by John. Mereda is never humbled in any way. Nobody in the film is as wise or as talented as Mereda. She never takes responsibility for her actions and there are never any consequences to her reckless behavior.
  • Atalanta leaves to see the world and presumably goes on to accomplish great things on her own. The end of Brave shows Mereda moving back into her parents home and going back to carefree princes life of eating junk food and playing with her toys. Mereda's future seems to be a perpetual childhood.
  • Atalanta goes off to see the world, but not before she learns that the possibility of love for her exists. She enjoyed her time with John, and perhaps one day she will marry him, or another guy like him. The worst part about Brave is that there is no possibility for love for Mereda. Her world does not contain a single character, male or female, that Mereda can actually learn to love. There is no compelling reason that Mereda should ever want to grow up and marry.
My wife and I saw Brave and as parents we were outraged by the way that Brave elevated mischief and disrespect to adults. Mereda and her comic relief baby brothers torment the adults, particularly the hapless pathetic maid who is charged with pampering them. It seems like there is nothing wrong with taunting the maid because she is fat and mute and not a real person.

But we were also profoundly saddened that this movie, with spectacular animation and with millions of dollars of marketing behind it, is going to be seen by millions of impressionable children in this country.

Perhaps in the 1970s we needed Atalanta to teach us that not every woman is ready for marriage at 19 or 20. Take some time first to get educated before you build a family.

But in 2012 with divorce rates climbing ever higher and an increasing amount of kids growing up to be adult children who refuse to leave their parents' nest - do we really need a film that romanticizes selfishness, perpetual childhood, and a world without marriage? 

Right before Brave's closing credits we learn that the movie was dedicated to Steve Jobs. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs courageously challenged the values of the Steve Jobs i-culture. Films like Brave are initiating kids into that culture at the youngest and most impressionable ages.

When my wife and I left the movie we passed a long line of young girls on line at the adjacent theatre. They were waiting for the midnight opening of the new film, "Magic Mike", a movie about a male stripper who teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money..
"Thank Goodness" we thought. "At least they are not going to see Brave."


Rabbi Jonathan Gross is a rabbi in Omaha, Nebraska. His blog is Rabbi in the Middle of America and he is on Twitter at @jon_gross.